LATEST NEWS

Massachusetts urges Census Bureau to end prison gerrymandering by Aleks Kajstura, Aug. 22 Massachusetts legislature urges the Census Bureau to end prison gerrymandering by tabulating incarcerated people at their home address. Read more Unites States Senators ask Census Bureau to end prison gerrymandering by Aleks Kajstura, Aug. 22 Census Bureau asked to solve prison gerrymandering nationally, save states from each having to adjust Census data on their own. Read more Census Bureau ethnography report reviews enumeration of incarcerated populations by Aleks Kajstura, Aug. 22 Census Bureau's ethnographic study recommends further research in counting incarcerated populations: suggests improvements to use of administrative data.... Read more

Is prison gerrymandering new to you?

Welcome! We wrote our introduction to the site and its contents just for you.

Progress towards ending prison gerrymandering

map showing state and local government that are taking action to end prison-based gerrymandering

Looking at the 2000 Census, the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. In a series of reports, we put numbers on the problem of prison-based gerrymandering, suggested solutions, and sparked a national movement.

Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:

Washington Post op-ed

Prison gerrymandering dilutes your vote

“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”Brent Staples

Called prison gerrymandering, the practice finds its clearest example in Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.


Don't miss some of our reports:

50 State Guide to Fixing Prison-Based Gerrymandering
report coverby Peter Wagner, Aleks Kajstura, Elena Lavarreda, Christian de Ocejo, and Sheila Vennell O'Rourke, March 2010
  Preventing prison-based gerrymandering in redistricting: What to watch for
report cover thumbnail
by Peter Wagner and Brenda Wright, Prison Policy Initiative and Demos, February 23, 2011 [En Español]